KARACHI - “Sindh is the victim of imbalance in terms of social development because of feudalism, tribalism and traditionalism, even large portion of population are facing food deficiency”, agriculture experts, environmentalists, human rights and food rights activists stated this at a national conference at local hotel on Tuesday.They asked the small scale food producers to build up a campaign against multinational companies (MNCs), landlords and government to ensure food sovereignty in the country. They emphasised the need, those producing food should have accessibility to get food for their children. Titled “Land Agriculture and Fisheries: A question of food sovereignty”, the conference was jointly organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) to observe the World Food Day 2012, the speakers of conference asked the government to initiate sustainable and farmer-friendly policy to ensure food sovereignty for the rural people. A large number of fisherwomen, men, civil society activists, academia and researchers participated in the conference.Executive Director of PILER Karamat Ali said a large number of children in Sindh are suffering from malnutrition. Sindh is the victim of imbalance in terms of social development because of feudalism, tribalism and traditionalism. Hundreds of people are facing food deficiency.“Every citizen needs to have access to social and political rights. Political disparity should be changed first and then all the people may have equal rights,” he added.Ali quoted the year-long, long march of the landless peasants in India, which successfully culminated last week when the government bowed down before the marchers, who were mainly 50,000 small scale farmers. On the occasion special talk from India on the Skype was arranged, in which the leader of the Indian peasants march Rajagopal briefed the participants about their success. “We need a similar kind of the long march and a campaign in which all the people should participate for their rights. Through this, we can influence the government to design policies to ensure the rights of common people,” said Karamat Ali. He underlined the need to develop the culture of struggle to change the situation and get the rights of food for all the people.PFF chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said: “We want the government to redefine land reforms. Those families producing food should be given priority to have a piece of land.” He lauded the role of rural women, including those associated with the agriculture, fishing, poultry and cattle farming.Shah pointed out that presently those who produce food, grains, fish and milk cannot consume proper food, mainly because of poverty. Farmers produce more grains but they cannot have proper share for their children. These families are being deprived of their basic social and economical rights in rural areas. He said many herder families shift their animals from one place to the other in search of fodder for their animals. They live like gypsies, wandering the whole year, because livestock is their only source of income.PFF chairperson said majority of the people, who produce food belong to rural areas, like farmers, herders and fishermen. Among these 10 percent people belong to fishing communities, who are vulnerable to face weather changes and sometimes they pay more price of government’s negligence.This is happening because the government does not have proper policies. Multinational companies are dominating, taking food items for commercialisation through influencing government’s policies, he said.He suggested reorganising agriculture trade and ensuring the right to communities, which produce food. Dr Riaz Ahmed Shaikh, teaching at SZABIST Karachi gave a history of food and cooperatives, saying commercialisation is the part of food producing like cash crops. Food is available but the people cannot afford to purchase, because of price hike and lack of empowerment. Nadeem Mirbahar from the IUCN Karachi in his presentation on ‘Mangroves ecosystems: opportunities and significance’ recalled that Pakistan had mangroves forests cover on 600,000 hectares in 1932. But gradually the mangroves forests have reduced, 80,000 hectares in 1985 and even less now. He said looking to this alarming situation, IUCN in collaboration with Sindh forest department has started plantation of mangroves and now cover has improved to 108,000 hectares. This mangroves plantation aimed to provide accessibility of resources, because 120,000 people directly depend on Indus Delta for livelihood. Prof M Ismail Kumbhar from Sindh Agriculture University, Tando Jam said,” when we say sustainable agriculture we should realise that due to wrong policies we are destroying soils fertility because of excessive use of pesticides and urea and other artificial fertilisers. Illiterate farmers are compelled to use hybrid and genetically modified seeds, which are not fit for human consumption”.He said institutions are not performing well. He portrayed the status of cattle farming, poultry, fishing and dairy farming, which have become commercialised.Ghulam Mujtaba Wadhar, Director of Inland Fisheries, Government of Sindh suggested to give the right of the land under the water legally to the fishermen, so they can introduce sustainable fish farming and live a happy life. Earlier, Majeed Motani, a community elder in his welcome address said fisheries is main export product, which brings significant foreign exchange. But for the last several years the sea has been turned dumping site, streaming entire industrial and urban waste in to it, causing pollution. Not only this, he said, mangroves forests, which are breeding ground for commercial fish are depleting fast, because of marine pollution and conversion of forest land.He said long ago fishermen used to take enough fish for his family but now the workforce is not allowed to have fish. Aly Ercelan, Tahira Ali, Ishaq Mangrio, Mustafa Meerani and others also spoke on the occasion.